It is located on the ground floor of the Mauritius Institute which was established by Governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen and built around 1880.
The oldest museum of Mauritius is divided into four galleries: - Fauna Gallery, Marine Life Gallery, Insects, Meteorology, Giant Tortoise Gallery and The World of the Dodo.
On your very first step inside the newly setup Fauna Gallery, you’ll be taken back for a short educational trip to the Jurassic Period, around 150-148 million years ago. The cast fossil of an Archaeopteryx, donated by the British Museum, is displayed.
Next to the “dinosaur bird” you’ll see some bones of the giant elephant bird of Madagascar, the Aepyornis. Coming back to the present time, stuffed specimens of birds from different parts of the world, marsh birds and migrating birds are beautifully displayed alongside species introduced, whether accidentally or by man, in the island.
The Indian Myna (local name: Martin – introduced from India), the Common Waxbill (local name: Bengali – introduced from South Africa), the House Sparrow (local name: Moineau – introduced from India) are some of the various bird species you’ll find everywhere around Mauritius. Our island is surrounded by sea and it is a real pleasure to admire sea birds around.
Marine Life Gallery
At the Marine Life gallery of the Mauritius Natural History Museum you’ll find a diversity of fish species which populate the sea around Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. The collection is rather old and you can immediately feel their lackluster due to prolonged exposure. Alongside specimens of commercial fish, those of poisonous ones are also exposed. A giant clam, the skull of a sperm whale washed up off Ile de la Passe and found in October 1986 and the skull of a beaked whale will definitely attract your attention.
Insects, Meteorology and Giant Tortoise Gallery This section offers rather scant but nonetheless interesting materials about the formation of rocks, water cycles, fossils and minerals as well as the formation of cyclones. The formation and distribution of various corals – hexacorals, octocorals (gorgonians or sea fans) and madrepores are well illustrated side by side with local and exotic butterflies and insects found in Mauritius.
Giants tortoises exposed on a platform are mostly sea turtles and those species introduced in Mauritius – like the giant Aldabra Turtles (brought in from Madagascar and Seychelles).
Dodo Gallery The dodo is symbolic to Mauritius as much as the panda is to China or the kangaroo to Australia. But the dodo is now extinct! A unique complete skeleton of the dodo found by Louis Etienne Thirioux, c 1904 is exposed.
The Mare aux Songes Mystery
Mare aux Songes is a mass grave. The Dutch-Mauritian research team found more than 8000 bones of the dodo, extinct tortoises, fossil plant material, snail shells and insect remains. Ongoing geological and paleontological research by the Dodo Research Programme aims to shed light on the Mare aux Songes Mystery.
A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth and meaning in our lives. When you are around in the City of Port Louis, you cannot miss the Mauritius Natural History Museum.
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